You've Been Warned: Proposed Nuisance Abatement Could Hit Dallas Streets

The ordinance could go into effect by the end of November

A newly proposed nuisance ordinance could soon go into effect in Dallas.

It would mean property owners would be forced to secure their own business or home, whether they want to or not.

Some residents say it will hold businesses accountable, but others question whether owners should be held accountable for crime committed on their property.

Currently, within the Dallas Police Department, there is a Nuisance Abatement Unit. The proposed ordinance would combine resources of the City of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department.

According to the drafted document from the Jon Fortune, Dallas Assistant City Manager, the Nuisance Abatement Ordinance "will allow the City of Dallas to place placards on Risk properties, create a criminal offense for an owner/person-in-control of a Risk property who fails to attend the accord meeting, and authorize the City of Dallas to charge fees to recoup the cost of regulating Risk properties."

Within the proposed draft, if an owner is cited five or more times in one year, a sign will be placed near their door, or in an inconspicuous place, stating that their property is a criminal nuisance.

The placard will state the following:

"The Dallas Police Department has declared this property a criminal nuisance under Article VIII, Chapter 27, of the Dallas City Code. If you have questions, please call DPD at [telephone number determined by the chief]; or, if you see something suspicious occurring at this property or in an emergency, dial 911."

Chapter 125 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code defines a criminal nuisance as a person who maintains a place to which persons habitually go for the following purposes and who knowingly tolerates the activity and furthermore fails to make reasonable attempts to abate the activity maintains a common nuisance:

  •     Capital Murder or Murder
  •     Aggravated Sexual Assault or Sexual Assault
  •     Aggravated Robbery or Robbery
  •     Aggravated Assault
  •     Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon
  •     Discharge of a firearm in a public place or reckless discharge of a firearm;
  •     Engaging in organized criminal activity as a member of gang;
  •     Deliver, possession, manufacture, or use of a controlled substance;
  •     Gambling, promotion, or communicating gambling information;
  •     Prostitution, promotion, aggravated promotion, or compelling; or
  •     Commercial manufacture, distribution or exhibition of obscene material.

Once a property is cited as a "criminal nuisance," a meeting with the Dallas chief of police, inspections and fees could follow. The owner must show a resolved commitment to actively combating criminal activity by adding security or surveillance.

Non-applicable crimes include all offenses involving domestic violence, forgery, counterfeiting, fraud, embezzlement, stolen property (buying, receiving, or possessing), crimes against family and children and driving while intoxicated.

Once city leaders vote on the costs of the fees, the drafted ordinance will be approved.

The ordinance could go into effect by the end of November.

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